Since New City Afterschool launched in early October, we’ve had the opportunity to really connect and build relationships with a number of students. If you’ve read some earlier blog posts from this fall, you’ve likely read some stories about how kids lives are being changed and impacted through the program. There is no doubt we have a lot to be thankful for.
That being said, something interesting has started happening in the last week. We’ve seen a handful of kids begin to unravel before our eyes. Kids who we love, who had shown growth, are now causing trouble. On Wednesday one of our most enjoyable students had to be sent home because he was being so disrespectful, and running away from us. Last night we had two younger students get sent home early because of their attitudes.
I was laboring over what was happening, when I overheard a conversation between some middle school students about Christmas. I realized at that moment, as one student shared he would not be celebrating Christmas, for lack of money, that the issue is Christmas.
For many of the children we work with, Christmas is an especially tough time of year. Here are some of the reasons I’ve encountered this week:
- A father is in jail
- A mother is working two jobs to make ends meet and still doesn’t have money for gifts. On top of that, she isn’t home much to take care of the kids
- A parent lives in another state
- Not enough money to pay the bills, let alone buy gifts
- Worried about what they’ll tell their friends they got for Christmas, when everyone goes back to school
Essentially, they are all experiencing Christmas anxiety.
The temptation is to think that we should buy them all presents, throw a party, and make the holiday special. The thing is, a present from me or you doesn’t fix any of the issues above, and in some cases just makes those issues worse.
As I think about the children of New City Afterschool, my heart breaks for them. Please pray for these students. Pray that:
- They would experience peace, security, and love as Christmas approaches.
- Families would be restored.
- Children would be filled with hope and not bitterness.
- The staff and volunteers of New City Afterschool would have the patience and encouragement to walk with these children during this challenging time of year.
- Children and families would encounter Jesus and truly rest in him.